Get Ready For Your Head To Explode. Here’s Part Of Phase Four Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe!

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Marvel Studios are back at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con, and as expected, Kevin Feige has been onstage (after officially confirming Avengers: Endgame as the biggest film of all time – sorry Avatar) to announce the next slate of movies we’ll all be getting excited about and buying tickets at the box office for years to come.

First up, on November 6th 2020, will be The Eternals, a huge cosmic adventure featuring more characters created by the great Jack Kirby! Alongside Richard Madden, Bryan Tyree Henry, Don Lee and Kumail Nanjiani, Marvel have landed the big guns of Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie to star in director Chloe Zhao’s first epic.

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan then took to the stage to discuss their upcoming limited series for the new Disney Plus channel, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will also feature Daniel Bruhl reprising his role as Baron Zemo, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Next up on the movie front, we’ll see Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The film will finally introduce the real villainy of  arch bad guy The Mandarin (as opposed to Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery in Iron Man 3), to be played by screen legend, Tony Leung. The title role of Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, is taken by Simu Liu (best known for appearing in the TV series, Kim’s Convenience). Awkwafina also stars in the film, which will be released on February 12th 2021 (that’s a great birthday present for me) and be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen then came out to promote WandaVision, their limited series for Disney Plus in spring 2021, which will see the Scarlet Witch and Vision in adventures taking place after Avengers: Endgame.

Tom Hiddleston also appeared to announce his Loki mini-series, also for Disney Plus (I guess we’ll all be subscribing to this channel…), also in spring 2021.

Excitingly for yours truly, director Scott Derrickson then came out to announce the fabulously-titled, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (take that, the days of just adding a 2 to the title), which will cast its spell in cinemas May 7th, 2021. “We’re going to make the first scary MCU film,” said Derrickson, making this Doctor Strange fan positively salivate!  The sequel will feature Elizabeth Olsen, as Scarlet Witch teams up with Doctor Strange and it will follow on from the events in the WandaVision series. That subscription just became even more unmissable!

The always wonderful Jeffery Wright came out to announce he would be the voice of The Watcher in What If…?, the first animated series in the MCU, with many actors from across the MCU reprising their roles as voice talent. Streaming exclusively on Disney Plus, in the summer of 2021.

Also for Disney Plus (oh, just take my subscription money already), Jeremy Renner will reprise his role as the Avengers’ ace archer in a Hawkeye series, which it was confirmed will feature the character of Kate Bishop from the comics and also look at more of Hawkeye’s time as Ronin.

The Cinematic Universe gets another fabulous title with Thor – Love and Thunder, reuniting Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, and directed again by Taika Waititi. In even better news, Marvel have persuaded Natalie Portman to return as Jane Foster and (as in Jason Aaron’s run of comics) she will become the female Thor! This, my friends, is going to rock and will hit our theaters, November 5, 2021.

As regular readers of this blog will be more than aware (since we broke the story of its Norwegian location filming) Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz star in Black Widow. Directed by Cate Shortland, the film lands in theaters May 1, 2020. “I’m looking to wipe out some of that red in my ledger,” said Johansson, and I’m happy we’ll get the chance to see her do that at last. Footage shown at SDCC promises a very Jason Bourne feel, which I’m totally down for.

As if the announcements couldn’t get more insane, the MCU will be reintroducing Blade, the vampire slayer, as played by Academy Award winner (and huge favourite at Out of Dave’s Head), Mahershala Ali! No release date has been announced yet.

Finally, get ready for your geek heads to explode (as mine did), because alongside the likes of Black Panther 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and Captain Marvel 2, Feige also mentioned… New Mutants (which will presumably preclude the some way off introduction of the X-Men) and… huge drum roll for those of who’ve been clamouring for this, Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four!

Okay, so that’s everything announced for Phase Four (and the accompanying TV shows) FOR NOW (well, for the next two years)! Remember we haven’t even mentioned The Avengers or Spider-Man yet. It’s safe to say we’ll be throwing our money at Marvel forever so I’m considering some kind of neural transfer of half my earnings until retirement.

UPDATE: In the crazy rush to put this news piece together, I ascribed New Mutants to be one of the forthcoming projects from Marvel Studios. Fiege actually said “there’s no time left to talk about mutants, and how mutants fit into the MCU.”
This leaves the fate of the Fox New Mutants film up in the air, but bodes well for even more exciting news to come about Marvel’s Mutants, possibly at the forthcoming D23 even in August. Stay Tuned!

Meanwhile, courtesy of the fine folk at JoBlo.com, here’s a handy visual (including all the newly released logos) to help you keep track on the Marvel Madness…

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Engage With Some Familiar Faces In The Extended Star Trek: Picard Comic Con Trailer!

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You’re here for Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Picard, so let’s take a look at him before we talk more…

This extended trailer (and its shorter variant) just dropped at the San Diego Comic Con, and seems set to allay fears that the new CBS All Access show will be all about the beloved Starfleet Captain treading grapes.

Giving us a much clearer idea of where the story will be headed, and what (or rather who) will lead Jean-Luc Picard out of retirement and back into space, I find myself becoming increasingly excited for this show. The glimpses of familiar faces in the trailer certainly adds to that excitement.

As well as the very unexpected return of Brent Spiner’s Data, I’m sure we’re all happy to see Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine, plus less unexpectedly (given that character’s return) the reappearance of the villainous Borg!

Star Trek: Picard is coming early 2020, and I can’t wait for CBS to make it so!

Is There Life On Mars…? Watch The Watchmen Trailer Now!

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Okay, cards on the table, I am fully vibed for Damon Lindelof’s new Watchmen series for HBO. Watch this trailer (just dropped at San Diego Comic Con) and you should be too…

That final shot! Wow! Hands up who’s excited for the return of Dr. Manhattan?

I mean, what’s not to love here? Definitely (and thankfully) not another run through of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s iconic comic book series (Zack Snyder already gave us a perfectly good and faithful film in 2009).

Instead, seemingly a direct sequel and highly intriguing take on the world of masks and vigilantes posited in the original story, everything about this screams class: from the cast to the music – provided by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Here’s the official synopsis to further whet your appetite:

“Watchmen takes place in an alternative, contemporary reality in the United States, in which masked vigilantes became outlawed due to their violent methods. Despite this, some gather around in order to start a revolution while others are going out to stop it before it is too late, as a greatly wide question levitates above them all; who watches the Watchmen?”

No release date has been given yet, though rumours persist it’ll be before the end of 2019.

I trust you’ll be watching the Watchmen with me…

Christoph Waltz Back As Blofeld For Bond 25. Probably.

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In news unlikely to be a huge shock to the system of anyone paying close attention to the development of the still officially untitled Bond 25 (I’m still laying cards on Shatterhand), it seems that Christoph Waltz will break with Bond tradition by returning as arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld for Daniel Craig’s final stint behind the wheel of the Aston Martin.

Daily Mail journo (but don’t let that put you off, he’s usually pretty on the ball with Bond) Baz Bamigboye reports that a visitor to Pinewood spotted Waltz on the Bond set, only to be told by the actor, “You haven’t seen me.”

This would be an unusual move for the Bond series, which has never seen a return appearance by any actor playing Blofeld (at least one whose face is seen). But industry scuttlebutt suggests Bond’s adoptive brother (…ugh) won’t be the main villain, with that honour falling instead to Bohemian Rhapsody‘s Rami Malek.

True Detective Season One’s Cary Fukunaga is directing whatever Bond 25 will be called. Did I say Shatterhand already…!?

Balanced Web-Spinner – Spider-Man: Far From Home

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Following up the successful first collaboration between Columbia/Sony and Marvel (Spider-Man: Homecoming), the cosmic hugeness of Avengers: Endgame  and the culmination of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe always promised to be a tricky task, but returning director Jon Watts and returning scriptwriters Chris McKenna & Eric Sommers have managed a pretty balanced movie that nicely answers all those demands.

Set eight months after half of humanity was restored to existence in Avengers: Endgame (now referred to as The Blip), the film wastes no time showing us some of the ramifications of this but also throws us headlong into a plot which, by necessity, has to stretch out more broadly than Homecoming’s friendly neighbourhood feel.

Terrifying giant creatures, Elementals, have seemingly crossed over into our world from another reality and, while attempting to enjoy a summer class vacation through Europe and engage with a blossoming relationship with MJ, Peter Parker is pulled into battling these monsters by a heroic newcomer, soon named Mysterio.

With Tony Stark no longer around, Mysterio becomes a mentor figure to Peter, but all is not quite as it first appears and events soon spiral out of our young hero’s control – both in and out of his webby mask.

Jake Gyllenhall’s Quentin Beck (a.k.a. Mysterio) works well against Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, in an arc which nicely defines Peter coming to terms with loss, while underlining his constant struggles with responsibility from a fresh angle. And while the resolution of this arc might be one of the film’s weaker moments, there is still a great deal to savour.

In terms of character development, the high-point of the film is undoubtedly Peter and MJ’s romance. Zendaya’s MJ is a real treat; snarky, goofy and vulnerable, and I could happily watch an entire movie of her and Holland just playing off against each other.

Holland is, it almost goes without saying, a pretty much perfect Peter Parker, beautifully playing the push and pull the character feels between his heroic responsibilities and his teenage life, continuing to make him highly relatable.

The actions sequences are excellent, the climax in the centre of London is one of the best Spider-man set pieces since Spider-Man 2’s train battle ( I saw the film in 3D, which really enhanced this sequence), and the film balances action, drama and (a great deal of) humour deftly, giving it a distinct feel while still integrating it firmly into the MCU.

It’s a superb summer movie, and a lot of fun (often mischievously so), even if a certain amount of Homecoming’s down to earth charm has been sacrificed.

Do make sure you stay through the end credits, as one of the two stings brings not only a wonderful cameo (particularly for long-time Spider-Man movie fans) but a pretty seismic cliffhanger for Spider-Man’s status quo.

The best thing about the film is that it makes you want to spend more time caught up in Spider-Man’s web and in the company of these characters, so bring on Spider-Man: Home From Home, Home Run, Home Sweet Home, or even Don’t Try This At Home

Well… That’s Brave. The Doctor Sleep Trailer Is Here,

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Warner Bros. have just dropped the trailer for Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining and, well, it’s quite something…

You can’t fault the studio’s bravery here, choosing to lean so much into Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 film by reusing footage and recreating sets. If nothing else it’s a bold statement of intent.

King’s sequel novel has proven to be highly divisive, eliciting equal amounts of love and scorn (nothing unusual there, of course, when tampering with a property so firmly lodged in the public psyche), but director Mike Flanagan has some serious scare chops as the writer/director of Netflix’s big hit series, The Haunting of Hill House (as well as the adaptation of King’s “unfilmable,” Gerald’s Game.

That’s certainly an intriguing trailer, and for those of you unfamiliar with the book, here the official synopsis for the movie:

Struggling with alcoholism, Danny Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. He soon finds a new purpose when he forms a psychic connection with a girl who shares his shining ability.

Doctor Sleep will open on November 8th when we’ll all get the opportunity to love it or hate it. Which side do you think you’ll come down on?

For The Love Of Godzilla – King Of The Monsters Review

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There has been a great deal of bad press surrounding Godzilla – King of the Monsters. Ignore it. If you’re a Godzilla fan, ignore it more vehemently.

In 2014, Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros unleashed Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla into cinemas, to good box office and mixed reviews. Time seems to have revealed it very much as a love it or hate it affair – I fall squarely into the former camp (despite acknowledging some big issues with it).

Now comes Michael Dougherty (director of Trick ‘R’ Treat) with his sequel (and third film in Legendary’s Monsterverse, after Kong – Skull Island), and what an awesome movie he brings with him.

Unashamedly, unabashedly pulpy fun, Dougherty throws just about everything he can into the demented plot-line: secret underground bases, mad scientists, aliens, lost undersea civilizations, and moves things along at such a breathless pace that you have to submit to the gleeful, everything AND the kitchen sink approach. And that’s even before we get to the monsters!

And you’d better believe we get monsters – Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah (all beautifully adapted from their Japanese movie origins) and a whole slew of new beasties. Plus, the title star himself, the King of the Monsters (with a fabulous and hilarious reveal as to why we should grant him that title).

And if you’re looking for monster battles, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Toho’s Kaiju do massive battle with each other in a number of locales, from the Antarctic to Boston, and Dougherty and co. present them with the enthusiasm of someone who has all the toys to play with.

So, what haven’t we mentioned yet? The humans in this monstrous toybox. The performers (including Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi) give their all, and play with just the right amount of tongue in cheek, but character arcs take a firm third place to plot and action. But who cares when the action is this much fun!?

And for long-time Godzilla fans there are a ton of extra treats, Easter eggs and references both sly and unsubtle, to a treasure trove of past Godzilla movies, none of which I intend to spoil here (but do stay all the way through the titles for a lovely touch just before the obligatory post-credits scene). It’s already widely known that composer Bear McCreary has used some classic Toho monster themes, and those are the icing on the Kaiju Eiga cake.

In fact, the further you progress into this film, the more it becomes clear how much of a Godzilla and Kaiju fan Dougherty must be, his love for Japan’s biggest export shines through every frame. The whole thing has the feel of some of Toho’s maddest entries for Godzilla, with the same freewheeling approach as films such as 1972’s Godzilla vs Gigan or 1973’s Godzilla vs Megalon.

Godzilla – King of the Monsters is quite obviously Dougherty and co.’s love letter to all things Godzilla, a gift from Godzilla fans to Godzilla fans.

 

Robert Pattinson Is Officially Your New Batman

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Warner Bros. have now officially announced that Robert Pattinson will star as the Caped Crusader in Matt Reeves’ forthcoming, The Batman.

Rumours flew out earlier this week that Pattinson and Nicholas Hoult were both duking it out in final negotiations as Reeves and Warner’s final choices, and now it looks like Pattinson punched that bit harder, as Deadline have revealed him as the victor.

Little is known about Reeves’ long-in-gestation movie, except that it will focus on the early days of Bruce Wayne as Batman, highlight more of the detective angle of the character (yay!) and that the central villains could be Penguin and Catwoman (again… boo!).

While many still think of Pattinson as “the Twilight guy,” the actor has steadily been turning out a number of critically-acclaimed roles in the past few years in films such as Good Time, Cosmopolis, High Life and The Lighthouse, and has also been cast in Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Tenet.

And director Reeves certainly did sterling work revitalising Fox’s revamp of the Planet of the Apes saga, so there’s much to be intrigued by here.

Shooting is rumoured to take place in the UK this autumn but no release date has been announced for The Batman, so I’ll be sure to light the Bat-Signal as soon as Warner Bros. give the word.


Photo by Paul Archuleta

Netflix Launches Dark Crystal Trailer

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Netflix has just dropped the first full trailer for their sequel to the late Jim Henson’s 1982 movie, The Dark Crystal, Age of Resistance. Check out the trailer here:

While I’m a huge admirer of Henson and of the artistry behind his amazingly creative films such as The Dark Crystal, I’m also not the world’s biggest fantasy fan – despite my myriad of other geek credentials – so I’m approaching this with some wariness.

But I have to say the trailer looks ravishing and has piqued my interest. I’m sure I’ll be catching the first episodes of this ten episode series from the increasingly world-dominating Netflix (at least until Disney launch their rival channel later this year).

Directed by Louis Leterrier (Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk), and featuring the voices of Taron Egerton and Anya Taylor-Joy, The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance launches on August 30th, 2019.

Marvel Phase 4 – Black Widow Begins Filming In Norway (English Language Exclusive)

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Blue Bayou – the shooting title adopted by Marvel for the production of the first movie in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow, has begun filming here in Norway.

The unit production base has established itself in the small village of Sæbø, in Sunnmøre on the western coast of Norway. The Sagafjord Hotel was overrun with a fleet of trucks as rumours first exploded locally that this was filming for the latest James Bond film (which is actually also shooting here, not too far away on The Atlantic Road and in Rauma, slightly further north in the region).

Per Henry Borch, line producer for Truenorth, the production and service company, confirmed to NRK that the film wasn’t Bond 25 in an effort to stop interested fans swarming to the site, obviously not considering that there might also be plenty of Johansson or Marvel fans ready to make the trip.

But your roving reporter can confirm that trucks, equipment and local signs are festooned with the legend Blue Bayou, revealed back in February as the shooting title for Scarlett Johansson’s first solo outing as Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow.

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Local newspapers are suggesting that Sæbø and nearby Bondalen (oh, the irony) are standing in for Romanoff’s childhood home in Russia.

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Shooting titles are often used to deter curious onlookers for location shooting and Marvel Studios productions have recently used covers including Mary Lou (Avengers: Infinity War/Avengers: Endgame), Open World (Captain Marvel), and Bosco (Spider-Man: Far From Home).

Crewmembers at the base remained tight-lipped and impervious to my requests for the movie’s entire plot-line, but filming will continue throughout the week. Production of the film is based at Pinewood Studios in the UK (as seen in the exclusive photos here), while the film is being directed by Cate Shortland from a script by Jac Schaeffer (Captain Marvel, the forthcoming Vision & Scarlet Witch TV series).

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No official release date has been given for Black Widow, but you can be sure you’ll be updated on these pages.